Unofficial Rats of Tobruk medal: Major General John Joseph Murray, 20th Brigade, AIF

Place Africa: North Africa, Libya, Cyrenaica, Tobruk Area, Tobruk
Accession Number REL42329
Collection type Heraldry
Object type Medal
Physical description Bronze, Copper, Steel
Place made North Africa: Libya, Cyrenaica, Tobruk Area, Tobruk
Date made c 1941
Conflict Second World War, 1939-1945

Trench art unofficial medal manufactured in Tobruk by Australian troops. The medal is a triangular piece of brass plate, with the words 'TOBRUK RATS 1941' stamped around the edge. Soldered to the centre of the brass plate is a smaller triangular piece of aluminium with an even smaller triangular piece of copper sheet attached to it. A brass silhouette of a desert rat is superimposed upon the copper triangle. At the apex of the medal is a suspension ring which attaches to a 'ribbon'. The ribbon is made of brass plate, with a narrower strip of copper sheet soldered down its centre. The words 'PRESENTED BY LORD HAW-HAW TO THE' are stamped on the front. A steel badge pin is soldered onto the back.

History / Summary

John Joseph Murray's Unofficial Rats of Tobruk Medal was presented to him during the war.

Murray joined the Second AIF in April 1940, and was appointed to command 20 Brigade, which embarked in October for the Middle East. The brigade transferred from 7 Division to 9 Division in February 1941 who, despite being poorly equipped, were then sent to relieve 6 Division in Libya. At Er Regima, 20 Brigade were one of the first Australian formations to engage Rommel’s advancing Afrika Korps. The Brigade successfully fought a withdrawal to Tobruk, where they played an integral part in halting and eventually repelling the German advance on 14 April. For his leadership during this period, Murray was awarded a Bar to his DSO. During July 1941 while 9 Division’s commander Major General Morsehead was attending General Headquarters in Cairo, Murray commanded the garrison at Tobruk. He left Tobruk in November 1941 with most of his brigade, and was Mentioned in Despatches for the performance of his duties. He served the rest of the war in Australia, until his appointment ended in January 1946.